Bitcoin,
Cryptocurrency,
Blockchain:
What is it?
Why should I care?

Morgan C. Benton & Nicole Radziwill

morphatic.com

Key Concepts

  • Decentralized → No central authority
  • Distributed Ledger → Automated auditing
  • Immutable → Cannot be changed (easily)
  • Consensus → Built into the platform
  • Trust → Really the obviation of trust
  • Smart Contract → Business rules enforced
    by code

I am not planning to go into any great depth about the technical aspects of implementing blockchain applications today

What kinds of problems can blockchain address?

  • Identification/Authentication
  • Tracking physical objects
  • Registration/Titling
  • Voting
  • Compensation for Consumption of Digital Goods
  • Currency

...Until Now

In the Future...?

Possibilities:

  • Un-fake-able (trust)
  • Truly global, decentralized
  • True control over personal information

Challenges:

  • Privacy!
  • Increased consequences for identity theft

Identification/Authentication

...Until Now

In the Future...?

Possibilities:

  • Smart-contracts auto execute on arrival scan
  • Reduce/eliminate escrow
  • Distributed manifests for secure chain of custody
  • Open and transparent system → fairer pricing
  • Track source of food, diamonds, minerals, etc.

Tracking Physical Objects

(i.e. supply chain)

Challenges:

  • Customs (think manifests)
  • Shrinkage (not the Seinfeld kind)
  • Excessive brokers/ intermediaries

...Until Now

In the Future...?

Possibilities:

  • Secure, efficient, digital land registries lead to global accountability

Registration/Titling

Challenges:

  • Land ownership is fundamental to social mobility
  • Corruption and/or poor/non-existent record keeping are a barrier, e.g. The Big Short, Daufuskie Island

Brian Behlendorf, Hyperledger

...Until Now

In the Future...?

Possibilities:

  • Enable true (vs. representative) democracy
  • Could expand shared decision making at all levels
  • Could enable more sophisticated voting strategies
  • Reduce corruption

Voting

Challenges:

  • Where to start...!

...Until Now

In the Future...?

Possibilities:

  • Smart Contract enables an automatic micro-payment for each use of the digital content
  • Remove intermediaries; pay goes directly to content creators

Payment for Digital Goods

Challenges:

  • Piracy

Cryptocurrency

The Shape of a Bubble

Key Functions of Money

  • Medium of Exchange
  • Measure of Value
  • Store of Value

It's not clear that cryptocurrencies actually fulfill any of these functions!!!

Some Cryptocurrency Buzzwords

  • ICO (Initial Coin Offering)
  • Crowdsale
  • Token
  • Bitcoin
  • Ether/Ethereum
  • Litecoin (+>4,000 others; more every day)

Some Cautions...

  • It's still the wild west in the domain of cryptocurrency
  • The bubble is almost assuredly being driven by a lot of speculation
  • Don't bet more than you can afford to lose
  • Don't expect a government to help you if you lose out
  • It's not clear what (if any) value is behind any of the currencies
  • It is clear that some of the bubble is fueled by ransom

Questions?

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Blockchain: What is it? Why Should I Care?

By Morgan Benton

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Blockchain: What is it? Why Should I Care?

This is a short, high-level introduction to the major terms and concepts related to blockchain technology that focuses on the kinds of problems it may be able to solve.

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